||"Within a few years of the invention of the first commercially successful photography process in 1839, American slaveholders had already begun commissioning photographic portraits of their slaves. Ex-slaves-turned-abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass also came to see how sitting for a portrait could help them project humanity and dignity amidst northern racism. In the first decade of the medium, enslaved people had begun entering southern daguerreotype saloons of their own volition, posing for cameras, and leaving with visual treasures they could keep in their pockets. And, as the Civil War raged, Union soldiers would orchestrate pictures with fugitive slaves that envisioned racial hierarchy as slavery fell. In these ways and others, photography powerfully influenced how bondage and freedom were documented, imagined, and contested. This book explores how photography altered, and was in turn shaped by, conflicts over bondage. Drawing upon an original source base that includes hundreds of unpublished and little-studied photographs of slaves, ex-slaves, and abolitionists as well as written archival materials, it puts visual culture at the center of understanding the experience of late slavery. It assesses how photography helped southerners to defend slavery, slaves to shape their social ties, abolitionists to strengthen their movement, and soldiers to imagine and pictorially enact an interracial society during the Civil War. With diverse goals, these peoples transformed photography from a scientific curiosity into a political tool. While this project sheds new light on conflicts over late American slavery, it also reveals a key moment in the much broader historical relationship between modern visual culture and racialized forms of power and resistance" -- Provided by publisher.